As Far As I Can Tell

What Would Mase Do?

You know how every once in a while you ask yourself “I wonder what happened to Mase?” It’s old news for those who have been paying attention but apparently he became Dr. Mason Betha, a Christian pastor, and denounced all rap music as “leading people into hell”. Now he’s bored with just preaching and has a new album out trying to bring a positive message without being heavy handed.

He’s avoided the Christian rap tag, but his lyrics are like the Wal*Mart version of a 50-cent album. There’s nothing revolutionary or particularly uplifting on this album unless simply refraining from swear words is enough to be “positive”. Tired beats mixed with boring lyrics that mention Jesus every once in a while — underwhelming to say the least.



i’m not going to even ask why you’ve dug up info. on mase. really, i’m not.

Posted by: e_prime on August 1, 2004 4:15 PM

clearly because “mo’ money mo’ problems” was an amazing song.

Posted by: jim on August 2, 2004 12:32 AM

Credit where it’s due: it was Meredith that put Ma$e on my mind. She’s the BET/Bad Boy Records news hound here at firehouse central. However, since her weblog has gone black I have to report for her now-a-days.

Posted by: Simon King on August 3, 2004 3:47 PM

Simon, thanks for spelling his name right on your comment.

Posted by: jake on August 3, 2004 8:56 PM

Go ahead Mase,

Posted by: Cathie on August 5, 2004 10:59 AM

Well i LOVE ma$e as much as the next person and was VERY excited to find out that since his becoming a minister he was gonna come out with a new cd. I purchased the CD and now i question his faith. Sure there are SOME positive messages. BUT 90% if not all of the lyrics consist of explaining to us that “Somedays he makes thousands,somedays he makes millions..” I recall that in the Bible,pride is sin. Dont get me wrong-im not judging by far,its just if you’re gonna talk the talk,then walk the walk. Sure Gods blessed ya Ma$e,but is there really a need to tell us about all your bling and all your money. 1 song maybe—but not almost on every track. The game changed while u were gone,indeed,but has your game really changed?

Posted by: jsaulz on September 6, 2004 7:44 PM

Designing for Unexpected Uses

Dan Saffer just posted a great entry about designing for unexpected uses, which is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to. We use things all the time in ways they were never originally intended. A designer will invariably end up marveling at how people actually use her creations, which I think is one of the joys of design.

Too often I feel like the industry is going in the other direction and believing that good design means anticipating every need and precisely planning all user interactions. It’s important to research, prototype, and test usability — but don’t forget about flexibility. One aspect of human centered design is that humans like to customize and play. In fact, maybe we can learn the most by looking at games.

I’m not suggesting that picking phones numbers from our address books should be like playing a first person shooter or that changing a radio station should involve answering trivia questions. But I’m interested in the way that games tend to give their users options, sometimes allowing them to create entirely new worlds while maintaining a consistent and recognizable experience throughout.

Even if something is designed for creative use a person may need some prodding to start customizing it. Building in examples might not be enough. I’m reminded of when I look at interactive art in a gallery. Even when the sign ensures me I should play with the work I’m nervous about touching it. A user needs to feel comfortable using the product in manner different than the default they associate it with.

Thinking about this, I’m reminded of what a new and inexperienced field interaction design is. I’m sure this sort of discussion has been around for ages and I’m excited to learn more about what’s already been discovered. I think the fields of architecture and museum design might be the best places to start looking for examples.



i read an article (perhaps in game developer magazine?) about this game that was being dsigned and the crazy stuff that playtesters figured out that the pogrammers never anticipated. for example, one player married a CPU-controlled player, then killed her father, which then meant that they inherited a whole bunch of gold. stuff like that rally is fascinating. related to games, you should read stuff here: Our good old buddy jim munroe strikes again.

Posted by: jim on August 1, 2004 2:49 AM

There are something that are created that are done so to serve one primary purpose, say a coffee pot, but there are people that make tea with coffee pots. A coffee grinder is obviously good for a lot more things than grinding coffee (spices, nuts, etc), but it is still primarily used for grinding. (And I think in this discussion we are talking about interesting uses for things…not using your coffee grinder to prop open your window). Tools are a great example of something in which flexibility of use is not just excouraged, but expected. Tools that hold only a single purpose do not last long in most toolboxes. The flat head screwdriver is probably one of the single most versitile tools I can think of. In nearly every service manual ever written there is a step that says “Pry open with a screw driver.” Nobody stops to think that maybe they should go get a small prying tool instead (if that even exists) because a screwdriver works great. I think the most fexible and customizable things are those that are the simplest because the fewer the added options, the more inherant options their are.

Posted by: caleb on August 16, 2004 1:50 PM

I thought you’d be interested in this article on unintended uses of condoms distributed by the Indian government:

Posted by: Andrea on August 16, 2004 3:13 PM

*Caleb*: I think you’re right. The best tools, especially hand tools, are those that serve multiple purposes. Tools like that have been refined over centuries to their bare essence. Just by holding them you can see how they can be used. I think that’s one of the essential challenges and shortcomings of _digital_ design — creating something that’s intuitive and evolved without the benefit of physicality. *Andrea*: Thanks for that article; what a crazy situation. It not only speaks to the unbound usefulness of latex but shows how inventive people can be when the materials are free.

Posted by: Simon King on August 17, 2004 10:57 AM

Falling off the X

I went 25 years without a drink. Most people called me straight-edge, and I accepted that term for myself for quite a few years. It was always a little weird though since I didn’t join straight-edge like most people, it just happened to match up with what I was already doing. I didn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs.

For me it was about self respect, thinking in the long term, and fucking the mainstream. I was trying to avoid self destructive behavior, ignore peer pressure, and stay in control of my life. It was always about making my own decisions and refusing to feel pressured into something that may not be the best for me. It doesn’t make me the easiest person to live with, but I always need to come to things on my own terms.

So, after a long and stubborn decision I’ve started drinking. Well away from high school, past college, and after dozens of New Years Eve parties I’ve finally come to terms with it. It became really easy not to drink; really simple to continue doing what I’d always done. But after a while you have to question if you’re doing something, or not doing it, just because it’s your norm.

This will seem really weird to those of you who have known me for a long time. Some people have defined me more by what I don’t do than what I do. The saying goes that “If you’re not straight-edge now, you never were.” I’m glad things aren’t really that black and white. Nowadays I’m much more interested in changing as my life does and paying attention to what’s actually best for me.



Double Chicago

I hadn’t been to Chicago for far too long, so I’m glad I spent the last two weekends there. Meredith and I went on the 4th of July, though we avoided the official celebrations as much as possible. I’m not a big July fourth fan, and this year in particular I felt too bitter about the state of things to celebrate America’s birthday.

We did venture downtown once, narrowly avoiding the Taste of Chicago crowds as we checked on the new Millennium Park. The official opening isn’t until this weekend, so we weren’t able to see everything. Sure, its four years too late for its namesake, but it might end up being worth the wait. There’s a Frank Gehry designed band pavilion, a giant interactive video sculpture by Jaume Plensa, and a 110 ton polished steel sculpture by Anish Kapoor.

In it’s unfinished state it was hard to tell if this was a park or Mayor Daley’s giant sculpture collection, but I’ll leave that judgment aside until it’s open. If you’re at all intrigued you should visit this Saturday because Ira Glass and Chris Ware and having a free multimedia presentation in the park. Additionally Chicago Public Radio has a special archive of Millennium Park related stories available for you to listen to.

Frank Gehry music pavilion The Frank Gehry music pavilion in his signature titanium.

Interactive fountain designed by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa This fountain will apparently spit water in-between two giant video faces.

This last weekend was the Peddy Cash BlingBQ Moped Army rally. We rode 30 strong from Humboldt Park to downtown, following the El and racing through the underground section of Wacker. Blockers with faster bikes were holding up traffic during most red lights, so we drove non-stop through every intersection. Riding downtown with that many people was amazing. Afterwards we rode to Montrose beach to cook up hotdogs and relax.

Mopeds in Humboldt Park Mopeds in Humboldt Park before the ride.

Riding mopeds towards downtown One of the red lights we actually stopped the at.

A swarm of mopeds on Michigan Avenue Mopeds swarming Michigan Avenue.

Moped Army members hanging out at Montrose Beach Moped Army members hanging out at Montrose Beach



Damn, Chad gets around. Do many scooter folks ride with the moped folks?

Posted by: Naz on July 15, 2004 7:12 PM

Oh, forgot to mention this little story - a few years ago, when I was in Michigan, I met this girl Erin from Ann Arbor who went to U of M. I was talking to her and I forgot how the Jedi Knights came up but it did and she mentioned The Moped Army (first time I had ever heard of you folks) and how the Jedi Knights were “our mortal enemies.” While I suspected this was a lot of brou-ha-ha, I was curious as to the overlap. Makes sense to me anyhow, being a lover of all things with two wheels.

Posted by: Naz on July 15, 2004 7:19 PM

Not usually, no. Rye from Peddy Cash has a Vespa too and I think he invited most of the scooter kids along. I like riding with scooters as long as they respect the moped too.

Posted by: Simon on July 15, 2004 7:21 PM

Your second comment slipped in before I could notice. As for the Jedi Knights, we had a very short lived and completely make believe rivalry a few years ago. I don’t know the Jedi’s too well myself, but I know that members from the Ann Arbor Moped Army branch hang out with them sometimes.

Posted by: Simon on July 15, 2004 7:24 PM

dude. DUDE. all this moped stuff and you didn’t tell me? i’m heartbroken. i would have come out to support at least.

Posted by: jim on July 15, 2004 8:02 PM

It’s actually really hard to participate in a rally if you’re not on a bike. The schedule tends to be determined on the fly and if you’re not riding along it’s hard to meet up.

Posted by: Simon on July 15, 2004 8:05 PM

oh, right on. but really. please call next time you’re around. i miss you guys. (btw, i am looking at teachiing in detroit or toronto! woot!)

Posted by: jim on July 16, 2004 12:43 AM

Ira Glass said something like, “the city of Chicago, in all of it’s forsight, finished the park 996 years early.”

Posted by: Tim on July 16, 2004 11:11 AM

sucks that i missed the chicago rally. looked amazing. swarming down michigan avenue? awesome. i’ll be back in michigan in 2 days, though. oh, simon, do you have a copy of “the shield” episodes from this season i could borrow? thanks.

Posted by: miguel on July 20, 2004 8:36 PM

Yep, I have all The Shield episodes on SVCD/DVD+SVCD that you can borrow. You should be able to play them in most DVD players.

Posted by: Simon on July 20, 2004 9:04 PM

thought you might like this:

Posted by: jim on August 1, 2004 2:51 AM

Awesome photo Jim. I still haven’t been able to get into the park to see that — it was closed for a fundraiser the last time I went. Simon

Posted by: Simon on August 1, 2004 2:58 AM

thanks for the compliment. when will you be here next? i’d like to hang. as i always say, it’s been too long. email me or something.

Posted by: jim on August 6, 2004 1:06 PM

As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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